Anyone who is even passively familiar with the personal journey of Quinn Cook knows that he was a huge fan of the Los Angeles Lakers growing up, and as a result, his favorite player as a kid was Kobe Bryant.
Cook obviously reached the Lakers too late to ever get to play with his idol, but before Bryant tragically passed away in January, Cook did get a special moment with him in the aftermath of one of the best games of Cook’s young career.
The Golden State Warriors entered Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals down 1-0 to the Toronto Raptors, and were clearly already weary and tired from five consecutive trips to the finals. They needed a spark, and Cook was able to provide it, hitting three 3-pointers for nine points off the bench to help the Warriors even the series at 1-1.
The Warriors ultimately lost in six games as injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson took their toll, but Bryant still noticed Cook’s big game and praised him for it last summer, a moment Cook was still glowing about while remembering it during an appearance on “The Jim Rome Show” last week:
“It meant the world. It meant the world. He told me I had big cajones. If anybody knows Kobe, they know that’s how he talked. And that meant the world, because the year before that in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals I missed a shot to win the game at the same spot.
“I’m getting killed on social media, this is my first big-time playoff experience and, I don’t want to say mistake, but I didn’t come through. I felt bad after the game. Steph (Curry) was texting me a lot that night, ‘keep your head up, shoot every shot.’ Draymond (Green) texted me and I was with Kevin (Durant) the whole night in his room because we were just talking about adjustments because we were down 3-2, and my mom just texted me ‘yo, that’s gonna be your Kobe moment.’ That’s all I was thinking that night, I just remembered Kobe his rookie year in 97, the playoffs against Utah, three straight air balls, and that’s what I kept replaying in my mind. I just kept replaying that in my mind, like ‘this is my Kobe moment.’
“Obviously he’s my idol, he was my favorite player growing up, so that gave me motivation. So for me to hit three threes the next year in the Finals from the same spot, that was big for me, and I was just always replaying in my mind ‘that was my Kobe moment.’ And then for him to acknowledge that the next time I saw him, that meant the world to me because obviously he’s everything to me, and everything to basketball, so for him to acknowledge that... I didn’t even tell him that I was thinking about him in that moment, so for him to acknowledge me in that moment because he knows how much he means to me, that meant a lot, and that made my entire life. And that was obviously the last time we really got to break bread and speak, and I’ll cherish that moment forever.”
Everything about this, from the explicit compliment to Bryant paying homage to someone currently playing to help move the game forward, is quintessentially Kobe. It’s a big part of what those closest to him want the world to remember about the late star, and seems like it was a truly unforgettable moment for Cook. No matter what happens in his remaining time with the Lakers or NBA, he’ll always have the time his childhood idol took notice of one of his big moments. That’s all any of us can hope for when pursuing our passions, and it’s awesome that Cook got to experience it.